Analysis finds New York’s education system denies students of color and students from low-income backgrounds access to advanced coursework

Press Release

NEW YORK – A new analysis released today by the New York Equity Coalition found that across New York State the education system continues to deny students of color and students from low-income backgrounds access to rigorous instruction in a range of courses that will prepare them for success in college and careers. 

The analysis found that students of color and students from low-income backgrounds are disproportionately excluded from a range of key advanced courses like Physics, Calculus, Computer Science, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. 

The analysis also found that there was little change in access to these advanced courses between the 2019-20 and 2021-22 school year, despite important guidance from the New York State Education Department to help districts expand equitable access to advanced coursework. 

Among the findings: 

  • American Indian, Black, Latinx, and students from low-income backgrounds are underrepresented in a wide range of important advanced courses; 
  • Black, Latinx, and students from low-income backgrounds are more likely than their White and more affluent peers to attend schools where important advanced courses are not offered; 
  • Even in schools that offer important advanced courses, students who are from low-income backgrounds and Black and Latinx students are disproportionately under-enrolled those courses. 

Every student in New York deserves an education that sets them on a path to a bright and prosperous future. Access to rigorous coursework is one way to ensure that students arrive at their postsecondary opportunities prepared. Now is the time to ensure that all students have access to information about advanced academic coursework and the role it can play in their postsecondary success. 

The analysis comes as communities across the country are engaged in an important conversation about Advanced Placement courses. But the narrow conversation about the content of these courses distracts from what should be the real focus – too many students do not have access to these advanced courses. 

As districts across the state consider how to invest billions in additional federal and state funding, it is crucial that some of these resources are used to provide more students with increased access to advanced courses that prepare them for success in college and career, including: 

  • Prioritize Dual Enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in high-need school districts across the state; 
  • Require school districts to provide every family with information about course offerings, enrollment criteria and supports in multiple languages; 
  • Enable automatic enrollment in the next available advanced course for students that demonstrate readiness using multiple measures, with the option for families to decline enrollment if they do not want their child to participate; 
  • Strengthen NYSED’s 2019 guidance on equitable access to advanced coursework; 
  • Collect better data on dual enrollment; 
  • Incentivize collaboration between local school districts and institutions of higher education; 
  • Invest in evidence-based K-12 literacy and math curriculum to better prepare students for advanced coursework. 

“Access to advanced coursework puts students on the path to obtaining a higher education degree or credential that will allow them to earn a family sustaining wage and fully participate in their communities,” said Dia Bryant, executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “Districts across the state are receiving unprecedented levels of funding, and it is crucial that they invest some of these resources into ensuring more students have access to the courses and opportunities that will put them on the path to be successful in the future.” 

“Opportunity and education are linked together to achieve a future for ALL of our students,” said Jacquelyn Martell, executive director of Education Reform Now New York. “As data show, historically underserved students from marginalized backgrounds have less access to resources that will allow them to grow academically. Education Reform Now New York, along with its New York Equity Coalition partners, is committed to making sure there are equitable resources in place for New York students to attain the education they deserve.” 

“Many students of color, first-generation students, and students from low-income backgrounds aspire to attend college; however, the college application process can present significant obstacles,” said Robert Rotunda, executive director of the New York State School Counselors Association. “Some students report there is no adult in the school with whom they feel they can discuss these issues, and many of these students come from underrepresented social or cultural groups. School counselors are mindful of school and community perceptions of the treatment of underrepresented groups and understand the importance of collaborating with school and community groups to help all students succeed.” 

“It is critical that all students and families know what course offerings are available to them,” said Grace Bonilla, president and CEO of United Way of New York City. “Equitable access to information is a start. United Way of New York City is eager to work together to address disparities in access—to high-quality courses, curricula, and teachers—that significantly impact student college and career readiness and outcomes. Let’s level the playing field for students who are traditionally left out of these opportunities.” 


About The New York Equity Coalition 

The New York Equity Coalition includes Better Schools Better Neighborhoods, Brooklyn YWCA, the Buffalo Urban League, The Business Council of New York State, Business Council of Westchester, Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, District-Parent Coordinating Council of Buffalo, The Education Trust–New York, Education Reform Now – NY, Educators for Excellence, EPIC-Every Person Influences Children, Hispanic Federation, INCLUDEnyc, National Center for Learning Disabilities, New York Urban League, Open Buffalo, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce, Public Policy Institute of New York State, Read Alliance, Turnaround for Children, UnidosUS, United Way of New York City, the Urban League of Long Island, the Urban League of Rochester, and the Urban League of Westchester County.